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John A. Kline, PhD



August 2017

Leading Meetings Effectively - Part III

We have discussed considerations in preparing to lead a meeting kinds of questions for leaders to consider.  This month we will discuss five types of directional questions; that is questions aimed at specific people or groups of people.

1. Questions may be directed toward a specific individual or individuals; these are aimed questions.  For example, “Bill, you have had a lot of experience in this area, what do you think?”  This question was aimed directly at Bill.

2. Sometimes the leader may wish to get questioners to answer the question themselves.  For example, Sam says, “So why is mutual trust really all that important as long as the job gets done?” The leader may use a reverse question and ask, “Just think about it for a minute, Sam; while the job might get done, what is going to happen later on if the leader and the group members don’t trust each other?”   Here the leader turns the question back for Sam to answer.

3. Perhaps one person has posed a question, made a statement, or simply talked for a while, then the leader might use a relay question to direct the conversation to the group or to a specific individual by saying, “That is all very interesting, Joe, but let’s see what some other people think about that aspect of trust.”

4. Similarly, if a person asks the leader a question, and the leader prefers not to answer it or wants to get the group involved, the leader may use a redirection question which turns the question over to the group or to an individual by saying something like, “That is an interesting question, what do the rest of you think about that?”  Or, “Megan, what is your take on that?”

5. Questions for which no answer is expected are called rhetorical questions.  “Have you ever wondered why . . . ?” or “How many people went to bed hungry last night?” are examples of rhetorical questions that keep people involved and might be used to lead directly into the topic of discussion.  Rhetorical questions near the end of the discussion such as: “So what have we learned so far?” can be used to provide a bridge into the leader’s internal summaries or final summary.

We have discussed factors involved in planning and selecting questions. Next month we will discuss some “do-nothing” questions to avoid.
John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama
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